All systems are now "go" for Felix Baumgartner’s jump from the edge of space. The Red Bull Stratos space capsule has passed high-altitude simulation testing after it was damaged in July’s final practice jump, and a launch date has been set for October 8th in Roswell, New Mexico.
The final countdown for Felix Baumgartner’s history making jump from the edge of space began on Monday after the Red Bull Stratos Technical Project Director Art Thompson declared the repaired space capsule is fit and all systems are go. The tentative launch date for Baumgartner’s attempt to jump from an altitude of 36,576 meters has now been set for October 8th, ending a period of uncertainty for the team and, for Baumgartner, the agony of waiting.
The legendary Austrian athlete had to endure delays due to the repairs but is now delighted that the countdown is on for his attempt to become the first person to break the sound barrier in freefall and set four other world records in the process.
"I feel like a tiger in a cage waiting to get out," said Baumgartner, 43, one of the world's most celebrated B.A.S.E. jumpers and extreme athletes, who in 2003 became the first person to make a freefall flight across the English Channel with the aid of a carbon wing. He will be flying as fast as a speeding bullet during his supersonic journey to Earth.
Aviation pioneer Baumgartner and the Red Bull Stratos team have been preparing for years to break the record for highest-altitude jump, eclipsing a mark set more than 52 years ago. The capsule, which at about 1.315 kilogram weighs a little bit more than a VW Beetle, was damaged in a hard landing following Baumgartner’s final test jump from a near-record altitude of 29,610 meters in July – during the jump Baumgartner was freefalling at speeds of up to 864 kilometers per hour, or as fast as a commercial airliner. The Austrian landed safely in another part of the New Mexico desert.
With the capsule now repaired, Thompson is cautiously optimistic about the launch date of October 8th. However he acknowledges that perfect weather conditions are needed for the delicate 850.000 cubic meters helium balloon, which is made of plastic that has 1/10th the thickness of a Ziploc bag. Mission meteorologist Don Day confirmed, "Early fall in New Mexico is one of the best times of the year to launch stratospheric balloons."
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